Back in the days before Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), or Direct Dial, when Computer Telephony used caller ID to direct phone calls to appropriate customer service agents or other groups in the business, there was the ubiquitous switchboard operator. Taking calls on ‘the main number’ on a large console with access to the company’s master directory – a small team of operators sending those calls furiously to individual employee’s or department’s extensions. To me it seems like yesterday (my first jobs were at Mitel and Genesys) and yet it feels a world away from where we are today.
You see social media isn’t really a channel at all – It’s a signal, a blinding white light. It passes over brands and penetrates them. A signal for all to see and of course potentially for all to miss. Inside that piercing light there is incredible product insight, frustrated customers, happy buyers, claims of lost baggage, missed flights, broken brand promises, glimmers of advocacy.. It’s all clumsily captured inside this explosion of noise we call Social media.
So here is the question. How are you inserting your prism in front of that light? You see – companies cannot simply chronologically lap up the noise. They cannot pay staff to dip in and cherry pick the good. There would be too many missed opportunities and way too much collision. Well meaning departments would collide into each others conversations and that white light – well that becomes an invitation for your competition to engage intelligently (they see that same light) and for your customers, the ones lost in that noise – well it’s not pretty.
What has emerged in the past couple of years, is that customer service has become a critical point of engagement for social. That means that it’s really important to fracture that light and to convert it into meaningful colors of conversational threads. For social to really take hold and for volumes to add value you need to essentially construct precise and deliberate channels of well constructed conversations – to pull apart that blinding light and fan out discussions with a view to resolving and managing real customer issues at scale.
To anyone embarking on a journey to embrace customer service as scale I urge you to start by considering this metaphor and to ask any partners you are looking to help you – How are you fracturing that light? How are you forging conversations from the noise – How is this signal going to become channels for service resolution at scale?
Paul Johns is the Chief Marketing Officer at McGraw-Hill Education. Mr. Johns was previously the CMO at Conversocial, and the Global Head of Marketing and Communications for Thompson Reuters. Paul has contributed a several articles to ExecutiveVine.com. Follow Paul on Twitter and LinkedIn.